Highlight Reel : Simple is Sophisticated

Where did spring and summer go? It's still 90 degrees here in LA, but the kids are back to school and I'm definitely feeling fall. As I get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd show some branding projects I completed in the spring and summer. 

Wishbird is a box of quotes or sayings to offer encouragement, say I love you, make someone laugh. Aeolidia pegged me to create the budding brand's identity, collateral, packaging and the quote cards themselves. It was quite an endeavor, and I'm so happy with how everything turned out. Above is an order insert that arrives with every shipped package, and below are the business cards. 

Photographer Jenna Coughlin has been on the Sonoma wedding scene for several years now, but it was time for a brand refresh. I redesigned Green Nickel Photo's logo and collateral with a modern-meets-rustic feel. The business cards and stationery—in print production now—has a luxe feel with gold foil and letterpress details.

Lastly, Jill & Co. Events is a wedding and events planning business that specializes in beautiful, modern celebrations with a little edge. Jill Remy's updated branding features foil calligraphy, geometric patterns, and a solid dose of charcoal gray. The juxtaposition of dark and light, soft and refined, reflect Jill's work well. The website I designed will be launching soon.

If you'd like help designing your business's branding or creating a new product, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

Strawberry Season

As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most wonderful times of the year in Southern California: Strawberry Season. Since today's Earth Day, here are a few photos from my daughter's school field trip to a local farm, where we got to pick perfect, red, ripe strawberries to our hearts' delight.


Few things make me happier than bowls full of berries at the ready, and I know my kids agree. They can eat a pound of berries in 5 minutes flat! 

Just My Type : Chocolates

Like all designers, I am type obsessed. One of my favorite parts of the branding process is the hunt for the perfect font. There are thousands of beautiful ones out there, though, and it can get overwhelming. So I'm starting a new series here featuring a font that I've seen and liked. Here's the first, Chocolates. Ain't she a beaut?

The Story Behind the Silhouette

There are some famous photos in our family. You know, the ones that everyone remembers—the ones that reveal an entire history. The photo above is a famous one. I look at it, and my childhood comes flooding back to me. 

As many creatives know, branding your own business is sometimes the hardest task. When I went freelance over 10 years ago, the name Darling Studio just stuck. And when it came time to pair the name with a logo, the idea of a silhouette just fit. They weren't so trendy back then, and the aesthetic matched my sweet design style at the time. Plus, I had this family history. 

People often think that the silhouette in my logo was drawn from a childhood photo, but I was actually 29 years old when I traced it! I was still wearing my hair in pigtails. 

I have been tracing our own family's history and progress with silhouettes. These Thank You notes were drawn when Henry was about 3 and Maira 1. The rubber stamp below was updating a couple of years later. Now that my kids are nearly 7 and 5, it is probably time for another update. 

The Write Stuff

I'm a sucker for handwritten letters. I still write thank you notes, I send postcards when I am away from home, I pen the occasional love letter to my husband, and I like to mail notes just because. As much as I love technology, I will never grow tired of putting pen to paper, and these are a few of my favorite tools when I do.

This month, two of my favorite stationery companies, Egg Press and Hello Lucky, are urging people to write 30 letters in 30 days. I'm urging you to shoot for one. Trust me, you will make someone's day.  

1. Rifle Paper Co. Floral Pencil Set | 2. Tokketok Happy Notes | 3. Paper & Type Letter Ledger | 4. Sugar Paper Brass Stamp Holder | 5. Klizia 97 Stapler | 6. Little Owl Workshop Heart J'Taime Stamp | 7. Izola Letter Opener | 8. Midori Brass Bullet Ballpoint Pen


Love Fools

Happy 49th Anniversary to my parents, who were the first people to teach me about unconditional love. I still catch them looking at each other like they are in this photo sometimes, and it melts my heart. 

Project Peek : What Leo Loves

Seeing my design work in print never gets old. Whether it's a letterpress business card or a catalog design, I just love getting each piece in my hand. Last year, I had the pleasure of designing the branding for What Leo Loves, a German baby product line making its debut.

The branding I designed features darling illustrations of a sweet whale and a crew of critters. They adorn an assortment of the cutest baby things, like this hooded towel. 

I rounded out the branding with a color palette, typography and iconography that can be used across their online presence, as well as their products. 

If you'd like help designing your business's branding or creating a new product, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

Seeing Differently

1981 by Nancy Purvis

1981 by Nancy Purvis

I played hooky one day last month to attend QuiltCon West, a quilt show hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild. I've always had a thing for quilts, but I gained an even greater appreciation for them — a deep love, really — after seeing them hanging on walls like the works of art that they truly are. 

The exhibit was a visual feast. I was floored by the incredible, and sometimes unexpected, use of color.

Diamonds Quilt #2 by Tara Faughnan

Diamonds Quilt #2 by Tara Faughnan

Red Hot by Shawna Doering

Red Hot by Shawna Doering

I was mesmerized by the clever use of negative space.

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

Ephemera by Jennifer Rossotti

Ephemera by Jennifer Rossotti

And I felt heartsick for the gorgeous patterns and texture. 

I almost didn't get out of the studio that day — I had so much to do — but I'm so glad I did. I came back to work energized, refreshed and wholly inspired. 

Collection by Carolyn Friedlander

Collection by Carolyn Friedlander

Navy Pier Summer by Maria Villar

Navy Pier Summer by Maria Villar

Blueberries for Sal by Elisa Albury

Blueberries for Sal by Elisa Albury

Printable Heart Balloon "Love is in the Air" Valentines

My kids are becoming a couple of my favorite clients. Henry and Maira's needs are simple and clear, and their feedback is honest and direct. And the projects...well, they are always just plain fun.

Both are still at the age where they exchange valentines at school, which means we need to put together 50+ valentines. Of course, I could go the storebought route—but making a craft project out of it is fun for them. And coming up with the right kind of craft—something they can easily do over & over again without complaining or losing steam—is fun for me. 

This year, after a little bit of research I decided we'd do heart-shaped balloons with a simple, sweet message. Because who doesn't love balloons? One of the challenges as the designer for 4- and 6-year-olds is keeping the final product easy to read but also easy on the eyes. When Henry and Maira saw the final product, I got instant approval. I got paid in hugs and kisses, which is another reason they're at the top of my client list.

MAKE YOUR OWN: Download the PDF here. Print & cut the cards. Add balloons with washi tape. Enjoy!


This project was inspired by Oh Happy Day and Sugarland

now showing : my interview on creative thursday

My friend Marisa inspires me. She is not only wildly creative but she is kind, courageous, thoughtful and thought-filled. Any time we hang out we talk for hours and hours—we even got parking tickets one late night because we’d lost track of time.

So when she asked if Rama and I would participate in her new web series Creative Thursday, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I knew it promised good, honest conversation about one of my favorite topics: Living a creative life. 

Today our episode airs. As I write this post, I haven’t yet watched it, but I know we talked a lot about our jobs as a designer (me), as an art teacher (Rama) and as parents (both of us)—and what it’s like to do what we do every day. I know there were a lot of laughs, too.

I hope you’ll check it out and enjoy! The other episodes feature some wonderful artists, designers, makers and shakers too, and there’s so much good food for thought.

Illustration by Rama Hughes